Supplying Our Water Needs
Request For Proposal
Large Scale Diversion of Water
U.S. Army Corp of Engineers-Chicago District [online]

Be sure to submit the online sign-off each day.

American inventor and statesman Benjamin Franklin once remarked, "When the well's dry we know the worth of water."

Request for Proposal (RFP)

The United States as a nation possesses abundant water resources and has developed and used those resources extensively. The future health and economic welfare of the nation's population are dependent upon a continuing supply of fresh uncontaminated water. Your consulting group has been commissioned by Vice President Gore to determine who should be awarded the contract for the large-scale diversion of water from water-rich regions of North America to water-poor areas experiencing growth in population and industry. The plans generally call for interbasin transfer of Great Lakes water or Canada's Arctic fresh waters southward to the western United States. Massive engineering schemes needed to do this have often been proposed by private entrepreneurs interested in selling the water or benefiting from improved water supply to their area. In the 1985 Great Lakes Charter all the state governors and the premiers of Ontario and Quebec agreed to cooperate in consideration of any proposed diversion. Your plan must address both economic (costs and benefits) and environmental concerns.

Plan 1
North American Water and Power Alliance (NAWAPA). This plan includes diversion of water from Alaska and northwestern Canada through a major valley in the Canadian Rockies (Rocky Mountain Trench) for distribution as far as Mexico by a system of canals and rivers.

Plan 2
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This plan suggests diversion of water from the Great Lakes via the Mississippi River to compensate for rapid depletion of groundwater from the Ogallala aquifer in the high plains states of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

Plan 3
Colorado Proposal. This plan calls for a canal or a pipeline to carry water from the Great Lakes to rapidly growing economies in the Southwest.

Plan 4
The Great Recycling and Northern Development (GRAND) Canal Concept. This plan calls for turning James Bay into a freshwater lake using a dam to prevent mixing with saltwater from Hudson Bay. Fresh water would then be pumped over the Arctic divide and transferred into the Great Lakes. Great Lakes water would in turn be diverted for sale to western states.

Plan 5
Erie-Ohio Canal. There was also a proposal to construct a canal from Lake Erie to the Ohio River, again to move water and shipping between the two countries [Canada and the United States].

Plan 6
Big Southern Drain. There was also a federally funded plan to drill a hole in the bottom of Lake Michigan and drain the water through bedrock layers for southern Illinois cities.

What was said: Proposed Canada Water Export Prohibition Act


Do you know where your drinking water comes from and how it gets to you? Americans drink more than 1 billion glasses of water a day! Most of us take for granted that we can turn on the faucet and get clean, clear, fresh water. And it's practically free. You can refill an 8 ounce glass of water about 15,000 times for the same cost as a six-pack of soda! For most people, water treatment facilities provide this safe drinking water. But your actions contribute to conserving this vital, precious resource and keeping it pollution-free.

Individuals, families, and policymakers face important decisions every day. No substance on earth is more precious than the water we drink. Today, with the growing awareness of the role that water plays in our society, decision-making requires more information than ever before. Students work in small groups (3-5) on projects which give them the opportunity to understand water issues, collect data from remote sources, and process that data to arrive at conceptual models of how we can manage our water resources. Since the Internet, particularly the World Wide Web, provides up-to-the-minute information about our world, it is only natural that this resource be effectively utilized, hence the design of this project.

You and your teachers will work with experts from the Illinois Water Survey and the Geological Survey to identify and propose alternative solutions to solve a problem relating to water. Appropriate technology will be used to collect and analyze water data; telecomunications will also be used to gather data and for collaborative research with experts and other students; and multimedia technolgy will be used by you to report and present the process and results of your research in electronic journals. These journals will include logs, visualizations, photos and movies and will be available online as Netscape documents.

This home page is intended to serve as a starting point for your exploration of "Supplying Our Water Needs." In effect, this is "command central" for the project. Your assignments, in-class exercises, and in some cases, your project reports will be found through links from this springboard. You will also find forums (newsgroups and listservs) as well as other schools on the Web for the exchange of your information on water.

Who is Doing What on the Web?

To learn more about how to make the most of your communications on the Internet, I strongly suggest that you read, Working with the Usenet Community or The PolitenessMan's Guide to Netiquette.

Your assignment for the next weeks will be to prepare a presentation representing one of the six groups. Based on your presentation, a recommendation will be made regarding who should be awarded the contract for the large-scale diversion of water from water-rich regions of North America to water-poor areas experiencing growth in population and industry. Your investigation should include:

  1. a scheme needed to divert the water from water-rich regions of North America to water-poor areas experiencing growth in population and industry;
  2. costs and benefits to all stakeholders.
  3. environmental impact.
  4. a list of resources used.
  5. criteria for choosing the best solution.
  6. your group's best solution to the problem based on your understanding of the problem.

Each image must have a caption. The presentation will be given using ClarisWorks® or Microsoft PowerPoint® presentation software. It should be written such that someone else could view the presentation and understand the key points without an accompanying verbal explanation.

You may not violate copyright laws. Any images or other resources retrieved from the Internet and used in your presentation must be accompanied by a reference or citation telling where it was obtained. To help you keep track of where you have been and where you are planning to go use the Search Log Form.

Thinking Log

You will be expected to keep a log book and make journal entries in such a way that you generate your own "progress reports." Some of the greatest thinkers of all time have kept diaries, letters, journals--forms of their thinking logs--that allow us to see their thoughts and ideas in process. These primary resources are crucial in helping us to literally watch a great mind unfold or a great idea develop. Leonardo da Vinci and Alexander Graham Bell are just two figures who kept logs.

Take a look at sample pages from the notebooks of Alexander Graham Bell, Leonardo da Vinci [1], [2], [3], or Thomas Alva Edison.

Helpful Exercises

The following exercises were designed to help you understand the problem of "Supplying Our Water Needs." While these exercises are, of course, optional, you are strongly encouraged to complete them.

--Netscape Basics
Here you can find a wealth of helpful information about your Netscape software and how to overcome any problems you might encounter with it.

--Finding Information
Finding what you want on the Internet can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Online search tools help you track down whatever it is you're looking for.


--Great Lakes Glossary describes major U.S. and Canadian organizations involved in Great Lakes management, agreements and laws that affect the Great Lakes, and terms and phrases commonly used in connection with Great Lakes management and rehabilitation.

--National Sea Grant College Program is a network of 29 university-based programs in coastal and Great Lake states involving more than 300 institutions nationwide in research, education and the transfer of technology regarding coastal, marine and Great Lakes issues.

--Environment On-Line: Water

--United States Environmental Protection Agency - Water, working in partnerships to protect and restore America's water resources

--The Great Lakes, an Environmental Atlas and Resource Book

--U.S. Census Bureau, your source for social, demographic, and economic information

--On April 22, 1995, Ocean Planet opened at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. People worldwide will be able to share the experience through this electronic online companion exhibition.

--The Universities Water Information Network includes a database of USGS abstracts, a calendar of water events, directories of water experts and organizations, and a list of links to other water sites.

--Wetlist provides a large collection of water-related links, from the Universities Water Information Network.

--Water Quality: 43 Areas of Concern around the Great Lakes Basin - where the aquatic environment has been most severely affected. The governments of Canada and the United States are working with local communities to develop clean-up plans to restore and protect water quality in the 43 areas.

--The National Water Quality Database is an information management tool for locating water quality and waste management educational resources created by the 50 State Cooperative Extension Services.

--U.S. Geological Survey Water Resources Information is the nation's largest earth-science agency and has the principal responsibility within the Federal government for providing hydrologic information and for appraising the nation's water resources. Hydrologic data and other data are used in research and hydrologic studies to describe the quantity, quality, and location of the water resources of the United States. The collection, analysis, and interpretation of these data is done in cooperation with other federal, state and local agencies, universities, and research centers.

--The U.S. Geological Survey's National Water-Use Information Program is responsible for compiling and disseminating the nation's water-use data. The USGS works in cooperation with local, state, and federal environmental agencies to collect water-use information at a site-specific level, such as the amount of water used to produce power at a fossil-fuel power-generation plant in Georgia.

--The University of Wisconsin-Extension Water Resources Programs provides educational support for maintaining and protecting Wisconsin's valuable water resources.

--Great Lakes Regional Environmental Information System is a computer-based environmental information system providing public access to information, data, and data utilities relevant to the Great Lakes region.

--The Illinois State Water Survey is the primary agency in Illinois concerned with water and atmospheric resources. Water Survey research and service programs assess and evaluate the quantity, quality, and use of ground, surface, and atmospheric water resources in the state.

--Exploring ChemCom on the Internet

--Internet Resources for Environmental Journalists

--Indoor Water Efficiency

--U.S. Geological Survey Weekly Water Fact

--Indoor Water Efficiency

--U.S. Geological Survey Weekly Water Fact

--FOR THE CLASSROOM Exploring Water Quality, focuses on projects that help students make connections among national issues, the school disciplines, and their own communities.

Created by: Shelly Peretz from Thornridge High School in Dolton, Illinois.

Handbook of Engaged Learning Projects sponsored by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Education Office and Friends of Fermilab. Funded by the Midwest Consortium for Mathematics and Science Education based at the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL).
Created: July 1,1996, Updated: July 26, 1996